What, if any, indications existed during the election of 1928 to show that black political sentiment was changing?

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Ever since Reconstruction the vast majority of African-Americans had cast their vote for the Republican Party, the party of the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln. In the South, the Democrats were the party of white supremacy, the party of Jim Crow. As such, they used the power they held in Southern...

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Ever since Reconstruction the vast majority of African-Americans had cast their vote for the Republican Party, the party of the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln. In the South, the Democrats were the party of white supremacy, the party of Jim Crow. As such, they used the power they held in Southern state legislatures and governorships to deprive African-Americans of their civil rights. As Democratic presidential candidates relied on the so-called Solid South to get elected, they conveniently ignored civil rights issues and made no effort to win the black vote.

In the 1928 election, however, there was a slight change in tack. The Democratic candidate for President Al Smith enlisted the help of James Weldon Johnson, executive secretary of the NAACP, and Walter White, the assistant secretary of the organization, in carrying out his outreach program to African-American voters. White in particular saw what would previously have been an unlikely alliance as a way of stopping both parties from taking African-American voters for granted. The NAACP wanted both Democrats and Republicans to start working hard for their votes.

Although most African-Americans loyally stuck with the Republicans during the 1928 election, Smith's bold outreach program paid dividends. In Chicago, for example, the Democrats won 27% of the black vote, more than double the percentage of four years earlier. In fact, Smith's support among African-Americans in Chicago was actually greater than that enjoyed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his landslide election victory in 1932.

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